Category: Travel

Day Trips To Entertain Holiday Guests

Travel tends to heat up as the weather begins to chill around the holiday season. With friends and family to see and holiday cheer to spread, it’s no wonder why millions of people take to the roads, railways and friendly skies to travel during the holiday season.

It’s not uncommon for holiday hosts to open their homes to loved ones for days at a time. Holiday hosts who want to ensure that visitors enjoy their stay can plan certain excursions to make the most of their time together.

Go See The Lights

Holiday lighting displays are popular across the country. Treat guests to a visit to a nearby attraction. That could be an amusement park that drapes the center of the park in lights, Main Street storefronts and town centers that put on tree lighting ceremonies, urban centers where department stores showcase impressive windows, or other attractions where lights take center stage.

See A Show

From productions of “A Christmas Carol” to other holiday favorites, it’s not difficult to find entertainment that showcases some holiday spirit. Dance troupes may be showcasing “The Nutcracker” or a choral ensemble may be putting on a concert of Christmas carols. Enjoy a night or day out at one of these events.

Visit A Cathedral Or Temple

The holiday season brings many individuals closer to their faiths. Travelers may want to visit a house of worship during their stay. Many churches are dressed up for Christmas and some may even have live animals in their living nativity scenes.

Cut Down A Christmas Tree

Save the tree cutting and trimming for when guests arrive. This way everyone can enjoy a day out at the tree farm as families select the perfect evergreen. Partake in refreshments such as hot chocolate or warm cider, then return home to decorate the tree together.

Day trips with overnight guests staying for the holidays can make for an entertaining way to get out of the house and enjoy time together.

Plan An October Weekend Getaway

Fans of fall know that few things can beat the crisp, sunny afternoons of October. The early days of the month bring with them comfortable temperatures and beautiful vistas. Summer’s heat and humidity often are things of the past, and time spent outdoors, whether raking leaves or tailgating at a football game, can be quite pleasant.

Early October is home to two holidays: Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which fall this year on October 9th. That means following the first full week of the month people in the United States have a chance to enjoy a three-day weekend to soak up all fall has to offer. Here are a few ideas.

Camping and Hiking

Take in the awe of fall foliage up close and personal by visiting a rural area or park a short drive away from home. New York City residents, for example, can head to the Catskills, while Chicagoans can head to White Pines State Park. Different regions of the country will show off their fall colors at different times, and while foliage may be past peak, these two- to three-hour drives be highly enjoyable.

Fall Festivals

Check out the chamber of commerce or visitors’ bureau websites of various cities and towns to see what is being offered relatively close by. Many will put on community fairs, festivals and the like. Columbus Day also presents a chance to celebrate Italian culture in many places, so Italian food and cultural festivals may be on the docket for those looking for such an excursion.

Skiing Towns

When the last of the summer tourists depart from ski resort towns and the lull sets in before the winter ski season heats up, visitors to Colorado cities like Aspen or Telluride or the Vermont city of Stowe can find great deals on hotel stays and dine out at relatively empty restaurants.

Warm Weather Culture

People who are not ready to part with warm weather can head to Miami. Miami often puts on a huge festival on Columbus Day and people from all over the world come to enjoy it. There’s fun for all ages and guests are welcome to arrive in costume.

Indigenous Cultures

Individuals looking to learn more about Native Americans may want to travel to the states with the highest populations of Indigenous peoples. These include Alaska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Montana, and North Dakota. It’s likely celebrations will be held in these areas highlighting their distinct culture and heritage.

Columbus Day weekend is an ideal time to get away before the rush of the holidays sets in soon enough.

Road Trip Planning Pointers

Travelers take to the open road for any number of reasons. When traveling on a summer vacation, families may find it’s more affordable to travel by car than to pay for airline tickets for parents and kids. Others take driving vacations because they afford more freedom to move at one’s own pace than air or train travel. Whatever it is that motivates drivers to hit the open road, there’s no denying such trips are more enjoyable when drivers make an effort to plan ahead. With that in mind, travelers can keep these road trip planning pointers in mind.

Choose A Nearby Destination

Driving to a faraway place may conjure romanticized visions of scenic roadways and heartwarming roadside cafés, but that may only appeal to drivers like retirees who have all the time in the world to get from point A to point B. Family travel is often dictated by how long parents can get away from the office, and in such instances shorter tips make more sense than spending days in the car. In addition, driving tends to be the more economical option when travelers are only going short distances. Parents may think driving to a destination that’s a couple of days away from home by car is more economical than flying, but it’s best to crunch the numbers first. The cost of hotels, meals and gas to get there and back may negate the cost savings of driving over flying.

Develop An Itinerary

A trip itinerary does not have to be strictly followed, but it can provide some structure and help ensure drivers get to spend as much time at their desired destination as possible. Identify sights to see and restaurants to visit along the way, which can provide a welcome respite from sitting in the car. Do your best to stick to an itinerary that keeps the car moving toward your ultimate destination.

Read The Room

Who’s going to be in the car also merits ample consideration when planning a road trip. Parents know that young children will need to be accommodated with some in-trip entertainment to make any lengthy road trip more enjoyable for all. But adults also may require some extra creature comforts and accommodations. For example, seniors about to embark on a road trip can identify pitstops along the way where they can use the restroom and even stretch their legs. And if the family pet is coming along, periodic pitstops for Fido to stretch his legs and burn off some energy will be necessary as well.

Ensure You Have Support

Many automotive insurance providers offer roadside assistance to policy holders. Such plans are generally affordable and can provide a safety net for drivers taking road trips. They can be especially helpful when visiting remote locales. If an insurance provider does not offer a desirable roadside assistance plan, consider a membership in an automotive club like AAA.

Planning is a vital component of a successful and memorable road trip, which is something travelers can keep in mind regardless of where they’re going.

Turn The Key To Your Next Vacation Rental

Vacation time is included in many full-time professionals’ benefit packages. Too often, however, employees feel that personal time off is a luxury they cannot afford to use. When looking at vacation as a necessity rather than a luxury, workers may be more inclined to start planning time off.

The Harvard Business Review reports that data supports the notion that those who take more than 10 days of vacation are 30 percent more likely to receive a raise. Those who vacation often have greater job satisfaction. The World Health Organization found working 55 hours or more per week was associated with a 35 percent higher risk of stroke and a 17 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease than a standard work week. Studies have found that taking regular vacations may help reduce the risk for metabolic syndrome, which raises an individual’s risk for various diseases.

People have different choices when planning vacations, and that includes a bevy of lodging options. The following is a breakdown of the types of properties vacationers can choose from.

· Rental by owner: Various companies facilitate the relationship between rental owner and renter. These include Airbnb, HomeAway and Vrbo, among others. These properties are stand-alone or in shared buildings. They’re frequently large and feature cooking spaces and multiple bedrooms, and typically do not come with the extra fees that some other vacation accommodations may tack on, such as paid parking.

· Bed and breakfast (B&B): A B&B rental is in a private home or inn. While accommodations may vary, one may get a private bedroom in the residence that may or may not include a private bathroom. B&B accommodations are smaller in scale than hotels, but offer a measure of personalized attention. B&B staff can help plan excursions and give opinions on attractions or restaurants in the area. As the name implies, breakfast is likely included in the stay, but guests may need to ferret out other meals.

· Hotel: A hotel is one of the more familiar vacation rentals that customers may encounter. They traditionally are large buildings that house many rooms. Shared spaces can include restaurants, gyms, pool areas, bars, and conference spaces. Some meals may be included in a hotel stay, like a continental breakfast. Perks may vary depending on the property.

· Motel: Motels are smaller and tend to be less luxurious than hotels. However, they can include basic accommodations that are perfect for short-term stays or breaks from long drives.

· All-inclusive: All-inclusive rentals generally are housed inside resort facilities. One price tends to cover the room, meals, activities, and sometimes even spirits. All-inclusive properties can cater to adults only or families. If the desire is to drop your bags and relax, an all-inclusive resort may be a place to consider.

· Time share: Technically not a rental, a time share, according to Investopedia, is a shared ownership model of vacation real estate. Multiple purchasers own allotments of usage of a property, which means they are allowed to use the property during certain times of the year – typically one-week stays. Those who purchase a time share may be restricted to one hotel or condominium, or those part of a larger company may be able to mix and match stays among a number of different properties for their designated weeks.

Vacation rentals enable people to get away throughout the year, which is good for individuals’ overall health and can even help them be more productive at work.

Travel Safely This Labor Day

Labor Day is a celebration of workers and the labor movements in the United States and Canada. Often considered the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day prompts many people to travel for one last getaway prior to the arrival of fall.

Labor Day get-togethers with family and friends typically include barbecues and other outdoor activities, and these gatherings may attract loved ones from various areas of the country. The National Safety Council warns that thousands of people will be injured in traffic accidents during the upcoming Labor Day weekend. In recent years, traffic fatalities over Labor Day weekend have averaged around 15 percent higher than in similar, non-holiday periods, says the NSC. In addition, the COVID-19 virus, although diminished, is still at large. Travelers are urged to remain diligent in regard to hygiene and other safety practices. The following tips can help Labor Day travelers stay as safe as possible.

• Call ahead and inquire about any travel restrictions. Many areas of the country have reopened, but it is important to find out if there are restrictions on crowd limits or if certain facilities are closed.

• Book early and leave time for travel. People are increasingly anxious to travel once again, and may wait until the Labor Day holiday to do so. Hotels and other amenities may fill up fast, so book travel plans well in advance and leave ample time for traveling to account for large crowds and busy roadways.

• Enforce a zero tolerance policy for intoxicated driving. Those who are planning to drink should never get behind the wheel. Also, young drivers are at particular risk to be involved in alcohol-related crashes, so teens and underage young adults should not be allowed to drink at parties.

• Limit distractions behind the wheel. Make a policy that the vehicle is a distraction-free zone. This includes keeping the radio low, stowing the driver’s cell phone out of reach so texts or other notifications do not become distractions and helping to keep children occupied so they’re not making a ruckus.

• Exercise caution in inclement weather. Late-summer storms can roll in and cause downpours. Drive slowly and cautiously, pulling over until visibility and conditions improve, if necessary.

These are some ways travelers can emphasize safety as they enjoy Labor Day weekend away from home.

Scenic Campgrounds Across North America

Thousands of campsites litter the North American landscape, providing an opportunity for campers of all ages and interests to find a place to call home for a few days. Many campsites feature some spectacular scenery and other attractions that make them coveted spots to pitch a tent. Here’s a look at a few camping locations that boast incredible views.

• Bartlett Clove Campground, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska: This remote and stunning campground offers views of crystal blue glacial water with a thick forest that surrounds the shoreline. Visit in the summer when the days are long and warm.

• Hanakoa Campsite, Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, Kauai, Hawaii: The Napali Coast is recognized as one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, and camping here can feel like you’re camping in paradise. Cliffs, waterfalls and streams make this location picturesque.

• Garden Key, Tortugas National Park, Florida: Tortugas National Park is a remote series of islands which are accessible after a two-hour ferry ride from Key West. It offers a tropical camping experience under mangrove trees, sitting on the edge of beautiful blue waters. Lighthouses and historic forts are adjacent, while one of the world’s largest barrier reef systems can be steps from your tent.

• Jedediah Smith Campground, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, California: If you’re intrigued by the opportunity to camp beneath towering, ancient redwoods, look no further than this campground. Camp among the natural beauty with plenty of solitude and space. It’s possible to spot black bear, river otters, bobcats, and other indigenous animals while traversing 20 miles of hiking trails.

• Buttle Lake and Ralph River Campgrounds, Strathcona Park, Canada: Visitors can behold the view from Golden Hinde, the highest peak on Vancouver Island, which towers at 7,210 feet. Also worth checking out is Della Falls, the highest cascade in Canada, which requires a multi-day excursion by boat and foot. Soaring mountain peaks, waterfalls and rivers also are accessible within these campgrounds.

• Assateague Island, Maryland National Seashore: The scarcity of tree cover on the island offers nearly unblemished views of miles of ocean. Campers can enjoy herds of wild horses and the siren’s call of the beach and ocean. While open year-round, late summer and early fall are the most comfortable time for camping.

• Watchman Campground, Zion National Park, Utah: This campground is surrounded by rocky peaks, juniper woodlands and massive sandstone cliffs. Bike trails along the Virgin River and other hiking opportunities help set this campground apart. Breathtaking sunsets also attract thousands of visitors to this area of the country.

Camping is made even more special when visitors spend time at a stunning campsite with awe-inspiring views.

Necessities for Your Next Road Trip

The travel industry is big business, annually generating hundreds of billions of dollars for businesses that cater to people who love flying the friendly skies and hitting the open road. Though many people might envision vacationers as international jetsetters, the U.S. Travel Association notes that four out of five domestic trips are taken for leisure purposes, proving that people with a love of travel need not book flights to indulge their wanderlust.

The National Travel and Tourism Office of the U.S. Department of Commerce notes that rural sightseeing is the fifth most popular leisure travel activity among domestic travelers in the United States. Travel aficionados who want to experience such sights for themselves should not forget the following necessities before embarking on their next road trip.

• Food: Rural countrysides might be idyllic, but such areas may not provide travelers with any dining options, so be sure to pack meals for everyone in the car if you plan to head far out into the country. Stopping along the way to enjoy a picnic can make the trip more enjoyable. If you plan to visit a less remote rural area with dining options, then some snacks might suffice. Pack non-greasy foods that won’t crumble, like carrots or grapes, so you don’t make a mess in the car.

• Comforts of home: Drivers may not need any comforts of home on road trips, but passengers, especially children, might. Blankets, pillows and toys for the kids can make long drives more comfortable for youngsters, while adult passengers who may want to nap on the way to and from the countryside will no doubt appreciate a pillow to make the car more comfortable.

• Printed directions: Thanks to smartphones and GPS systems, the days of printing directions are largely a thing of the past. But signals from cell towers may not be strong in remote locations, prompting drivers to get lost until they can reestablish a signal. Printed directions to predetermined destinations can help drivers avoid getting lost. Drivers without certain destinations in mind should pack local maps so they can pull over and find out where they are if their cell network connections suddenly disappear.

• First aid kit: A basic first aid kit that includes bandages, antibacterial cream, pain relievers, and medicine that treats motion sickness can help passengers who become ill or hurt themselves while on the trip. Jot down the addresses of hospitals or doctors’ offices near your destination and along your route and place this list inside your first aid kit just in case someone needs medical attention.

• Automotive supplies: Before embarking on a road trip, drivers should always take their vehicles to a mechanic for tuneups. But even vehicles that are tuned up and inspected can break down, so make sure you have road flares, flashlights, fresh batteries, jumper cables, and a spare tire in the trunk just in case your car does break down.

Road trips make for fun excursions, and such trips can stay fun if drivers prepare themselves for any potential obstacles while out on the road.

North America Is Home to Many Beautiful Beaches

The warm breezes and crashing surf draw millions of beach-goers to coastal locales each year, making a day at the shore one of the most popular summer pastimes. It’s easy to forget your concerns while basking in the glow of the sun and counting the seagulls coasting over the horizon.

Even though people travel all over the world to dip their toes in the sand of beautiful beaches, many may not have to venture too far from home. Beautiful beaches make up the coastlines throughout North America. Here’s just a few of those awe-inspiring spots and what makes them unique.

• Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina: Visitors to the Outer Banks understand just how magical these barrier islands can be. This beach has the region’s hallmark sandy dunes and frothy surf, and stretches for 72 miles. It’s an ideal spot to get lost while beachcombing or diving through the waves.

• La Jolla Beach, California: Found in northern San Diego, this beach has something for everyone. The waves are great for surfers and the north end of the beach has scenic cliffs. For those who want to enjoy the beach without all the sand, there’s a palm tree-lined promenade.

• Waikiki Beach, Hawaii: No best beaches list would be complete without a mention of one of the most picturesque beach locales in North America: Hawaii. Vacationers flock to this island state for the azure waters and impressive surfing conditions. Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous surf spots in the world. It also provides the full Hawaiian tourist experience. There are endless restaurants, resorts and nightlife along this two-mile strip of sand.

• Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada: The white sands of Wasaga draw scores of visitors every year to create a party atmosphere similar to Florida beaches during college students’ spring break vacations. Cottage rentals are available and there are tourist-friendly shops selling mementos and beachside essentials.

• Main Beach, East Hampton, NY: When it’s time to get away from the hustle and bustle of New York City, A-listers and others flock to the eastern shores of Long Island, namely the Hamptons. With sprawling mansions and picturesque towns, this area is much quieter than Manhattan’s bustling streets. Plus the white sands and delicious foods are powerful draws.

• Clearwater Beach, Florida: The beaches of Florida’s eastern coast certainly are popular, with Jacksonville, Daytona, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami Beach high on visitors’ lists. However, the west side of Florida has its own vibe. Broad, sandy shores on the Gulf Coast, also straddling Tampa Bay, entice families and other vacationers year after year. Take a dolphin-sighting cruise or just enjoy the magnificent sunsets while you’re at Clearwater Beach.

Let’s not forget Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and several others. Vacationers don’t need to fly to the tropics to enjoy beautiful beaches. Many are very close to home.

Explore Your Travel Options, Including Staycations

Daily life was upended in March of 2020, when most of the world was first introduced to the novel coronavirus COVID-19. People from all walks of life were adversely affected by the pandemic, and certain industries, including travel and tourism, had an especially difficult time as the pandemic wore on.

Tourism greatly affected

Travel was largely restricted in early 2020, with some countries prohibiting tourism from travelers from critically impacted areas. As the second wave of the virus arrived in late 2020, many nations returned to full or partial lockdowns to combat virus transmission, further hurting the travel and tourism industry. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the tourism industry accounted for 330 million jobs in 2019. Estimates now suggest that approximately 121 million of those jobs have been eliminated due to the pandemic. Countries whose economies relied primarily on tourism either continued to stay open to travelers or have reopened to make ends meet.

Travel considerations

When the weather becomes colder and inhospitable, people often seek out warmer climates. Though travel figures to decrease dramatically in the winter of 2020-21, there may be some tourists who are willing to leave home for the promise of beaches and sunny skies. As of December 2020, Mexico had no entry restrictions for Americans, apart from limiting land-border crossings. Visitors can get a temperature check on arrival and will be schooled in basic information about social distancing. John Spence, president of the tour company Scott Dunn USA, says Kenya is a relatively safe East African destination to visit, and the country has been transparent about its reopening conditions. Costa Rica and Caribbean islands have been cautiously reopening to tourists, starting with nations reporting lower infection levels. Anyone who chooses to travel is strongly urged to quarantine for at least 14 days upon returning home.

Home modifications

Individuals who prefer to stay close to home may want to invest their vacation dollars into home renovations that can simulate getting away. While they may not serve as a substitute for a sandy beach, home renovations may make riding out the colder temps a bit more tolerable. Here are some ideas to make staycations more enjoyable.

• Improve lighting. Increase bright, indoor lighting to simulate longer hours of sunlight. • Invest in a hot tub. You may not be able to swim outdoors in the winter, but sitting in a hot tub can chase away the chill and prove very relaxing.

• Renovate a bathroom. Create a spa resort experience with a bathroom overhaul that includes multi-jet shower heads, towel warmers and ultra-plush linens.

• Join a gym or indoor pool club. A chance to swim even when it is cold outside can be refreshing and make for great exercise.

• Visit an indoor water park. Indoor water parks can include wave pools that recreate the conditions of beach resorts, but all in a climate-controlled environment.

It’s the time of year to escape the cold, and people are weighing their options as they try to decide if they will travel or stay home this winter.

Go Green When Spending Time Outdoors This Summer

The great outdoors beckons people year-round. But nature is especially enticing in summer, when warm weather compels people to leave their couches and soak up some sun. Spending time outdoors is rewarding, and it can be even more so when men and women take steps to make their outdoor recreation as eco-friendly as possible. Whether it’s choosing certain activities or taking other measures, there are various ways to go green when spending time outdoors this summer and beyond.

Leave the car at home.

Americans and Canadians consume more gasoline per capita than any people in the world. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the United Nations, Americans consume 4.39 liters of gasoline per capita each day, while Canadians consume 3.62 liters per capita each day. In lieu of driving everywhere this summer, men and women who want to be more mindful of the environment can leave their cars home more frequently. Rather than driving the family to a nearby ice cream stand, walk or bike there instead. Run as many errands on foot or on a bicycle as possible. Walking or cycling is a great way to get some time outdoors on warm summer days, and reducing fuel consumption is an equally great way to help the planet.

Vacation locally.

Another way to help the planet when spending time outdoors this summer is to vacation locally. People who vacation close to home typically do not fly, and that’s a significant benefit to the planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that aviation emissions release black carbon, nitrous oxide and sulphur oxide, which contribute to the greenhouse gas effect. And while the EIA notes that automobiles and airplanes produce relatively similar amounts of carbon dioxide per gallon, airplanes burn considerably more fuel than cars, thanks in large part to the considerable amount of fuel planes burn on the runway. By vacationing locally, outdoor enthusiasts can reduce their reliance on airplanes, thereby reducing the effects those airplanes have on the environment.

Embrace eco-friendly activities.

Various activities, from organic gardening to planting trees to beach cleanups, provide a great way to get outdoors and help the planet at the same time. Men and women who grow their own vegetables can take solace knowing that the vegetables they’re eating each night did not require the depletion of any natural resources to go from garden to table. Signing up for beach cleanups can prevent trash, including harmful plastics, from making its way into the world’s oceans, and such cleanups provide a great excuse to go to the beach.

Volunteer with a local park service.

The National Park Service offers a variety of volunteer opportunities to individuals who are enamored with the great outdoors and are interested in protecting their local and national parks. Such opportunities can be explored by visiting www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm. Parks Canada (www.pc.gc.ca) offers similar opportunities to outdoor enthusiasts.

Outdoor enthusiasts can make their summers more rewarding by taking steps to be as eco-friendly as possible when spending time outdoors.